Your Citizenship

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

But our citizenship is in heaven…. – Philippians 3:20

Our congregation is in a worship series on James, so I’ve been spending a lot of time immersed in this fascinating and controversial letter. James says so many provocative things:

When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – 1:2

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. – 1:9

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – 1:27

And that’s just chapter one.

Some of what James writes sounds strange to our ears, and even offensive. But after spending time with James you begin to understand why. James isn’t writing as a citizen of the kingdom of this world; he’s writing as a citizen of heaven, of the Kingdom of God. The values of these two kingdoms are often radically different.

The kingdoms of this world value power, dominance, comfort, security and winning at all cost.

The Kingdom of God values humility, service, trust, interdependence and love at all cost.

Most of us hold dual citizenship. We are citizens of our country and citizens of the Kingdom of God, and these two things are sometimes in conflict. When we fail to distinguish between the two, or fail to make our citizenship in the Kingdom of God our highest loyalty, we either use our earthly citizenship as the lens through which we understand our faith, or we use our faith to justify the values of our earthly citizenship. Both are dangerous errors.

I am grateful beyond words for my citizenship in this country and in the Kingdom of God. I pray for the wisdom and faith to distinguish the two, and to hold my citizenship in the Kingdom of God as my highest loyalty.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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